Tommy Thompson decides against run for Wisconsin governor

Apr 18, 2022, 10:01 AM | Updated: 2:57 pm

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, a Republican elected to four terms starting in the 1980s, announced Monday that he will not run again in a bid to take on the Democratic incumbent in the battleground state.

A campaign by the 80-year-old Thompson would have put him on the ballot for the first time in a decade and 24 years after his last win. The winner of the Aug. 9 Republican primary will advance to face Gov. Tony Evers.

Thompson contemplated seeking yet another comeback in his unparalleled career in Wisconsin politics that spans more than half a century, even meeting last month with former President Donald Trump at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort to discuss it.

Thompson told The Associated Press that Trump encouraged him to run, but Thompson’s family was against it. Thompson said Trump didn’t disparage any of the other Republicans who are running, and Thompson held out the possibility of endorsing one of them.

“I want a Republican governor and I want to win,” Thompson said.

Thompson’s entry would have shaken up an already crowded Republican field that includes former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, businessman and former Marine Kevin Nicholson and state Rep. Timothy Ramthun. Last week, Madison businessman Eric Hovde decided against a run.

Ramthun has openly advocated for decertifying President Joe Biden’s win, even though Republican leaders and attorneys have said that would be illegal. Kleefisch and Nicholson also have supported Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, and they have pushed to eliminate the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Kleefisch served eight years as lieutenant governor under Scott Walker between 2011 and 2018. Nicholson ran for U.S. Senate in 2018, losing the Republican primary to Leah Vukmir. She went on to lose to Baldwin.

None of the other Republican candidates immediately returned messages seeking comment on Thompson’s decision not to run.

Thompson last ran for office in 2012, when he won a Republican primary for U.S. Senate but then lost the general election to Democrat Tammy Baldwin. Before that, Thompson won election four times as governor — the most in state history — and served from 1987 until 2001. He left that year, midway through his fourth term, to become then-President George W. Bush’s secretary of health and human services.

Thompson has never been far from politics, briefly running for president in 2007 and in March completing a 21-month stint as interim president of the University of Wisconsin System.

“I want to run,” Thompson said Monday. “I still want to run. My brand of politics is different. I wanted to articulate my brand of politics.”

Ultimately, Thompson said his family was united against him mounting yet another campaign — his fifth for governor.

“We had a family meeting and it was unanimously opposed by all of them,” Thompson said. “I decided to go along with them. I just can’t run a campaign if your wife and children were all opposed to it and they were.”

Thompson’ political career began in 1966, when he was first elected to the state Assembly. He served there for 20 years before spending the next 14 as governor. He was U.S. health and human services secretary from 2001 to 2004.

His last two bids for public office failed. Thompson dropped out of the run for president in August 2007, five months before any state voted after his candidacy failed to generate momentum. While he won the 2012 Senate primary, he came out of it broke and eventually lost to Baldwin by more than 5 points.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


(Facebook Photo/Superior Court of Arizona in Yavapai County)...
Associated Press

Arizona judge has cases reassigned following DUI arrest

The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that all cases currently assigned to a Yavapai County Superior Court judge recently arrested on suspicion of extreme DUI will be reassigned to other judges.
4 days ago
Haitian migrant Gerson Solay, 28, carries his daughter, Bianca, as he and his family cross into Can...
Associated Press

US, Canada to end loophole that allows asylum-seekers to move between countries

President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday announced a plan to close a loophole to an immigration agreement.
7 days ago
Expert skateboarder Di'Orr Greenwood, an artist born and raised in the Navajo Nation in Arizona and...
Associated Press

Indigenous skateboard art featured on new stamps unveiled at Phoenix skate park

The Postal Service unveiled the “Art of the Skateboard" stamps at a Phoenix skate park, featuring designs from Indigenous artists.
7 days ago
(Facebook Photo/City of San Luis, Arizona)...
Associated Press

San Luis authorities receive complaints about 911 calls going across border

Authorities in San Luis say they are receiving more complaints about 911 calls mistakenly going across the border.
13 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Associated Press

Daylight saving time begins in most of US this weekend

No time change is observed in Hawaii, most of Arizona, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas.
21 days ago
Mexican army soldiers prepare a search mission for four U.S. citizens kidnapped by gunmen in Matamo...
Associated Press

How the 4 abducted Americans in Mexico were located

The anonymous tip that led Mexican authorities to a remote shack where four abducted Americans were held described armed men and blindfolds.
21 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
Tommy Thompson decides against run for Wisconsin governor